The Ethics in Your Shopping Basket

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In this guest article Lucy Bee talks to Tim Hunt, co-editor Ethical Consumer Magazine, about campaigning, rating companies and ethical products…

Q: Firstly could you explain who Ethical Consumer is?

A: Ethical Consumer is a not-for-profit UK magazine and website which publishes information on the social, ethical and environmental behaviour of companies and issues around trade, justice and ethical consumerism.

We are on a mission to make business more sustainable by harnessing consumer power.

Our main focus is on producing guides that help consumers choose the most ethical products every time they shop.

We also work with sustainable businesses providing them with research and analysis and helping them to campaign effectively.

Q: Can you explain more about your consumer guides?

Lucy Bee Coconut Oil is an Ethical Best Buy

A: We have over 130 product guides on our site. Each one rates and ranks brands based on their ethics.

Our ratings cover around 300 topics, in 19 areas, in 5 main categories, including everything from environmental reporting to human rights to animal testing to tax avoidance.

These ratings are updated in real time from our Corporate Critic database, which contains research on over 40,000 companies, brands and products. This information comes from a number of resources from primary research to company press releases to campaign reports.

The database is a result of over 25 years work. Over this time, this sophisticated yet simple, personal ethical rating system has evolved to give consumers all the information they need to make informed decisions when they shop.

As well as on the web, a selection of these guides are published six times a year in our magazine.

In each guide we pick our Best Buys to help consumers easily choose the best brands to buy in that market. We’re very pleased that Lucy Bee has one of these awarded for its coconut oil and you can read more about that here in Lucy Bee: Ethical Best Buy Coconut Oil.

We talk more about the Best Buy in our video interview with Lucy Bee below:

Q: What makes Ethical Consumer the leading authority on ethical consumerism? 

A: As mentioned above we’ve been producing our magazine for over 25 years and over this time we’ve built up a massive database full of information on companies and brands. This helps us to understand trends and what is happening within markets.

We’ve also got lots of experience of working with some of the UK’s most ethical companies and campaign groups.

Q: Is campaigning something you do a lot of?

A: We see everything we do as campaigning of one type or another.

Our guides help consumers avoid the worst companies (e.g. those avoiding tax or committing human rights abuses) and this type of campaigning is great as people can do it easily in their everyday lives.

We also run more focused campaigns. At the moment, we are running one on carbon divestment, helping people to de-carbon their personal finances as a way for individuals to help tackle the climate crisis.

We also work with other campaigning organisations to help bring consumer actions into their campaigns, including sustainable fashion and a palm oil campaign.

Our work with ethical businesses is also about making them more sustainable or helping to promote sustainability within markets, so campaigning is really central to what we do.

In fact, we are a not-for-profit co-operative so even our structure is geared to being as ethical as possible.

Q: Do you think your work is having an impact? Have you noticed a lot of change over the last 25 years? 

A: We track the market for ethical goods and services every year through the Ethical Consumer Markets Report.  This shows that the market has steadily increased over the last 10 years or so. It’s now worth around £38 billion. The market for ethical products and services is now worth more than the market for tobacco.

Aside from the hard data, we’ve also noticed some real changes in what the larger companies are doing and it’s usually for the better.

When I first started at Ethical Consumer, around 10 years ago, very few companies were producing environmental reports and even fewer had supply chain polices that monitored workers’ rights issues. We’ve really seen that this has changed and companies are now really beginning to take these issues seriously which is a big achievement for everyone involved in the green movement.

Added to this, there are now many smaller ethical businesses shooting up and this is really important. Not only does it provide consumers with a great choice but is also helps to push the larger companies to become more ethical.

The general trend is really encouraging and we hope it continues to grow long into the future.

You can find out more information about Ethical Consumer and their great work, including the topics discussed in this article, by clicking here.

About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

The views and opinions expressed in videos and articles on the Lucy Bee website/s or social networking sites are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of Lucy Bee Limited.